Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Summary: Blades, X-Passes, Relative Aggression

Blade Usage:

I got eleven shaves from my last Rapira Platinum Lux blade. This was followed by getting eight shaves from the Dorco ST-300 blade that I arm stropped prior to the first use. Currently, this morning I had my ninth shave from the Dorco ST-301 blade. 

Though I had a generally good shave this morning with this blade in the c.'48 Tech, I do have just a bit of lingering -- though not visible -- irritation. I'm not sure whether this is due to the blade getting a bit tired, or some other reason (see below).

The X-Shave

Back from the late 1940s through the 1960s, X-planes were experimental. It started with the Bell X-1, in which Chuck Yeagar broke the sound barrier, and continued through the X-15, which crossed the border of space, and involved other experimental planes beyond the X-15 as well

Yes, my X-shave is experimental, but the X refers to the stroke directions of the two passes. I have tried this before and rejected the concept, but I had a better outcome this morning. The first pass (of two) in an X-shave is with grain, but also slightly cross grain. Similarly, the second pass (of two) is against grain, but also cross grain -- and as necessary, can be more cross grain than against grain.

This morning I got a pretty good shave using this X pattern and only two passes, and required significantly less fussing on and below my jaw line than usual. As I mentioned above, I do have a bit of minor, lingering irritation on my cheeks mostly, but I can't pin down if it's due to the shave pattern, the blade (which is getting long in the tooth), a combination of the two, or other factors.

The Merkur 33 Alternative

I used my Merkur Classic razor head for a few shaves this week, and though a less aggressive shaver than my Techs or Tech wannabees, I don't think it was significantly milder in terms of skin damage than the Techs. This may be due to the fact that I unconsciously press a bit harder to compensate for its negative blade exposure, or that I make extra strokes for the same reason. 

Although I'm still keeping the 33 in my bathroom cabinet for the time being, my sense is that its long-term residence may be the bedroom closet once again.

Merkur 33 Mildness

And speaking of the 33's shave character, this is more anecdotal evidence that not all Merkur razors are equally aggressive. Few would dispute that the Merkur 34 HD razor is more aggressive in shave character than the humble Gillette Tech. Yet the Merkur 33 is milder (and, objectively, has a more negative blade exposure) than the Tech (which has a fairly neutral edge exposure). I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist (do you get the tie in with the X-planes?) to draw a conclusion about the relative shave characters of the Merkur 33 as compared to the 34HD.

Tech Care

My c.'48 Gillette Tech remains the go-to razor head, paired with its factory-supplied handle, both with their factory-applied gold tone over nickel plating over brass. Because this is a vintage razor still in pretty good shape -- still sporting the Gillette logo on the top cap and having some gold-tone fading only along the safety bar and edges of the top cap -- I'm taking it easy during my daily after-shave clean up. In the same way that I pat dry, not rub dry, my razor blades to preserve the edge coating as much as possible, I have begun relying on a water rinse and gentle drying of the razor itself to minimize as much as possible the removal of more original finish.

Happy shaving -- and y'all tech care now!  ;-)

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